The BC Wildlife Federation Wetlands Education Program (WEP) team joined forces with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society, and A Rocha Canada this Wednesday to provide over 140 Grade 4 and 5 students from schools around Surrey with hands on, outdoor learning. The free event, titled Nature Knowledge Festival, was held at Surrey Bend Regional Park. It was part of Surrey’s Environmental Extravaganza, a series of free events and programs that encourage residents to learn about nature and showcases the work of environmental organizations in the community.
The goal of the festival was to get students outside and to connect them with nature. Students are becoming more and more disconnected from nature, spending their days indoors and in front of screens, without realizing how many interesting things are happening right outside their front doors. This festival gave Surrey students the chance to learn about nature and get excited to spend time outdoors.
The theme of this year’s Nature Knowledge Festival was “Wetlands are home to many plants and animals”. Students took part in a series of interactive activities held at 5 different stations placed around a loop trail in the park. Each of the partners took ownership of 1-2 stations. Through hands-on activities, students learnt important skills, such as, how to use their senses to distinguish between different local animals, and ways to identify the critters living in our streams in order to determine the health of our wetlands.
The WEP team hosted two stations: one that focused on wetland invertebrates and another that showcased different animal tracks you would find around a wetland habitat. Students were able to see invertebrates in real life and make connections to scientific classifications of the specimens. They also became familiar with noticing the difference in size of various animal tracks. It was a truly fulfilling event that allowed experiential, place-based learning and left the children feeling more enthusiastic about the environment.
Teachers were thrilled to have the chance to bring their students to the event. One teacher stated, “this was such an amazing opportunity. The event was very well organized, and the staff were friendly and engaging. We can’t wait to come back next year!”
The hope is to run the festival annually and expand the capacity to allow more students to participate each year. This year’s event the following schools participated: Cloverdale Traditional Elementary School, Rosemary Heights Elementary School, Gibson Elementary School, Don Christian Elementary School, Surrey Christian School, and Brookside Elementary School.
A special thanks to all our partners for working so hard on making the event a possibility. Additionally, a big thank you to our funders, Wildlife Habitat Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, the event would not have been possible without their financial contributions.